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I'm planning on building my own router table, including a router lift, pivot functionality, fence, and whatnot. so far i have my materials, a pretty solid plan how to do it and the proper amount of motivation to execute the project.

As there are routers in all shapes, sizes, power and price ranges available i'm at a loss what to buy.

The consens among all the different opinions i read so far is that "SIZE DOES MATTER"! On one side the actual size of the thing where a smaller/lighter motor is preferable, on the other side the brute force the router can produce should by rather high (ideally 1 kW upwards).

The routers that would fit my needs/budget best i think are the following:

Makita RT0700C:

  • (+) round enclosure and easy to mount (steadily) to a brick of wood
  • (+) static I/O switch
  • (+) variable speed control
  • (+/-) heavy(ish) (3.3 kg or 7,3 lbs)
  • (-) 710 Watt
  • (-) bulky head
  • (-) ~140 € (in Austria)

Kress 06082206 1050 FME-1:

  • (+) POWER (1050 Watt)
  • (+) static I/O switch
  • (+) variable speed control
  • (+) lightweight (1.7 kg or 3.7 lbs)
  • (+) quite small, round enclosure which makes it easy to mount in a lift
  • (-) ~200 € (in Austria)

While i can bring myself around to using one of these (and probably will), on my search for THE perfect router, i stumbled across CNC motors. They are perfectly round metal cylinders with a very low profile (they average at around 5 cm in diameter), weigh next to nothing and are relatively cheap (compared to routers). My favorite at the moment is something i found on eBay for ~100€ with 1.5 kW. As there are plenty of videos, tutorials, plans, opinions and whatnot out there on the subject i feel like i'm missing some major point here. Why isn't anyone using CNC motors for their homemade router tables? Especially since all those start with some kind of "As i'm on a budget, i'm using..." in the end it's some 200€ router.

Thanks in advance, so long...

  • 1
    If you want to do this on the cheap (well under €100) you might consider Lidl or Aldi's plunge routers when they come around again. I hesitate to actively recommend them but honestly most comments I've read from owners have been positive. Last time they were offered here I think they were both 1250W, although one might have been 1500W. Not sure about the Lidl one but the Aldi router had three collet sizes included as well (two metric, one Imperial) making it very versatile in terms of what bits you could use. – Graphus supports Monica May 18 '16 at 14:52
  • Both the Makita and Kress are on the weakish side. For a router table, you would normally not want to go below 1400W. Speaking of high-quality routers, not Aldi (which have more Watts on the input side, but inferior power output). For CNC motors... what about rotational speed and what about collets? Rotational speed of stepper motors is in the single- to two-digit range RPM, not in the two-digit thousand range. – Damon May 18 '16 at 20:03
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    @Damon, is the lower output power compared to the stated Wattage based on specific data or just a general observation in relation to lower-cost power tools? – Graphus supports Monica May 20 '16 at 10:05
  • @Graphus: It's a general observation, but it is also something that some of the more expensive manufacturers actively use for promotion (no surprise, it's one of the things that justifies their excessive price). I own both professional-grade and Aldi-grade drills, professional-grade and brand diy-grade (Bosch green) circular saws, professional-grade and Aldi-grade routers, and all three grades of electric screwdrivers. Among all these, generally, the lower the grade, the bigger, the louder, the more Watts. But... not necessarily more power. My 1050W Festo saw easily outperforms my 1600W Bosch. – Damon May 20 '16 at 11:39
  • @Graphus: Ironically, I have seen several professional craftsmen use exclusively DIY-grade tools on construction sites all day long. When I asked them, they said "Yeah, I don't pay for electricity you know, so I don't care. It does the job, so what. Plus, I get these at the local DIY market,and when it breaks after 3 months of being used 8 hours per day non-stop, I go there and have it replaced on warranty". No joke... – Damon May 20 '16 at 11:43
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I think you may be misunderstanding what a CNC motor is. The CNC motors are stepper motors, and they can be precisely directed to move the X, Y, and Z axes of a CNC machine They need the appropriate signal to tell them to spin, and by what amount. A CNC router still has a regular router attached to it.

This picture may be helpful (image from probotix.com):

CNC Router from probotix.com

The green motors in the picture are the CNC stepper motors. They drive the positioning of each axis. The router actually doing the work is the yellow thing in the middle; it appears to be a standard Dewalt 618.

Note that if you did try to use a motor that isn't already built to be a router, you'd still be missing a lot of important parts, perhaps the biggest of which is the chuck. How would you attach the bits to the motor? Whatever solution you come up with is likely to be an additional expense, and given the speed routers run at, do you trust it not to come apart on you while your bit is in the work piece?

Another consideration is, how are you going to move it up and down in the router table? The Dewalt in the picture has a spiral channel running the length of the motor casing that allows you to twist it to position it higher or lower (I'm simplifying a bit here, but that's the gist of it). Other routers have similar mechanisms. You could probably use a router lift, but once you're buying or building that, you've lost a lot of the cost savings you're going for and might as well have just bought a normal router.

  • CNC stepper motors, now i get it, and feel a little dumb about it :) thank you for explaining this so thoroughly. – Stoppal May 19 '16 at 8:06
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For a router table, light weight is not an advantage; more power is. (When handheld, the equation may or may not go the other way depending on what you are doing. Which is the reason, other than price, that a range of offerings exists.)

CNC routing motors tend to be equivalent to trim routers, or even lower power, since they aren't asked to cut quickly or drive large bits. Trim routers have become more powerful over the years, and there are in fact mini router tables for them, but if the table is your focus they're a much more limited solution. They also may force you to design your own mounting and height adjustment mechanisms (or to buy and adapt a router lift). Valid observation, but probably not what you are looking for given what little you have told us.

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If you are not getting a lift, then it is real nice to have a router that allows you to adjust the height from above the table. I recall several reviews saying that the Triton TRA001 was a great router for router tables. Personally I use a Porter-Cable 7518 mounted in a JessEm lift.

A few years ago I was at Woodworkers in America. One of the instructors there just used a standard fixed-based router under a piece of MDF for his router table.

  • I actually want to build a table that houses a lift as described in my question. As the lift shouldn't be too huge the Triton and other routers just like it, have too big a footprint for my purpose. The Porter-Cable looks perfect, it's just a little bit out of my league regarding the price-tag :) – Stoppal May 19 '16 at 11:20

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